“Kernel” published in Aurealis

Aurealis cover
My story “Kernel” has just been published in Aurealis, one of the leading Australian science fiction magazines. It’s complemented with a nice illustration by Matt Bissett-Johnson.

The issue, edited by Stephen Higgins, includes a story by Sophie Masson, an article on Kim Wilkins by Kate Forsyth, Carissa’s Weblog by Carissa Thorp as well as numerous reviews. It available now through the Aurealis website. The magazine is a $2.99 download, or $19.99 for a twelve month subscription.


Story blurb:
Genn’s stuck in a spaceship with more questions than answers. He remembers an accident, but no one on board is giving him a straight answer. And the kernel that’s supposed to be helping him recover seems helpful, but does more deflecting than anything.

Opening paragraphs:
They had given Genn the kernel right after the operation, when he was still feeling somewhat woozy and disoriented. This was in April, a month and a half before departure. The kernel was the shape and colour of a single corn seed: deep yellow at the broad end, tapering to a white tip. It was the size of grapefruit, occupying, when he held it—as he often did—the whole of the palm of his hand.
‘It will help you through the transition,’ the medical team had told him.
‘Transition to what?’ he’d asked, but they had just smiled and left him in the post-op room with the sounds of the rattling hospital for company. There might have been an accident. He remembered Janice yelling at him on the freeway. Was it a transition to a life without a
‘Transition,’ the kernel said, ‘through the light barrier.’

Thursday book – Witchsong

I blog about Kim a bit, so it’s probably no surprise I’m starting my regular “reading for writing” series, proper, with one of her books – I’m a definite fan. Part of what’s cool about this book is how it shows Kim’s versatility – she writes adult horror/fantasy/supernatural novels, adult romances (as Kimberly Freeman), children’s novels and young adult novels. She’s even written an early reader and a picture book. Anyway, Witchsong is the fourth book in her young adult series about psychic Gina Champion, and perhaps the scariest yet as Gina is faced with a ghost hell-bent on retribution.

What’s cool about reading this, as a writer, is how well-balanced the novel is. Gina has to contend, as in the earlier books, with the supernatural events, sceptical police, busy friends, distant parents and added into this, very nicely, is her almost estranged relationship with her adult sister. Throughout the book things keep unfolding and the danger increases, as you would expect from a thriller, but Wilkins dials it back at times, really heightening the tension, with everyday things that have to be done. It’s as well-tuned as a racing engine.

There are many, many “how to” books on writing a novel out there, but the best guide, I say, is actually reading novels to really understand how to write a novel. While Witchsong might be targeted neatly at a teen audience, it’s still worth checking out for would-be writers.

(Kim recently changed the theme of her website, which runs on wordpress, to Chaotic Soul, the same as I’ve been using for ages! I guess there are only so many themes, and this one must be popular amongst horror writers – Graeme Reynolds is using it too).

Year’s best fantasy, 9

A last minute post here before I’m off. TOR books, a science fiction imprint which has been around for ages, is making The Year’s Best Fantasy 9 available in chunks for free from their website. You have to be a registered user, but as with many sites now, that only takes a moment. I discovered that a story by one of my favourites, Kim Wilkins “The Forest”, was in there. Nice to be able to read some fantasy again from her (oh, I haven’t read it yet, just registered, downloaded and printed – I’ll add it to the pile of reading for the week away).

Kim Wilkins at work on a new book, yay!

One of my favourite authors Kim Wilkins has taken herself and her family from Brisbane to England to research and write her new novel. I can’t wait to read it. I know she has been busy, but it’s been a while since her last adult fantasy – Rosa and The Veil of Gold (just The Veil of Gold in the US, I believe). While I’ve enjoyed her young adult books on a level, I couldn’t quite get into her “Kimberley Freeman” romances, so I’m excited that after some years we’ll be getting another thick and well-researched adult fantasy.

Kim was studying at the University of Queensland, ahead of me as I was beginning my masters. She had already published a couple of novels then and won the Aurealis Award in 1997 for The Infernal. My favourite of her novels is The Autumn Castle, which is a complex and dark almost Gothic romance with parallel worlds and devious, devilish plot twists. She’s published something like 20 books now.